15 dead in Iraq suicide attacks

Baquba (Iraq), Jan 19 (AFP) A suicide bomber rammed anambulance packed with explosives into a security headquarterstoday, killing 13 people in the second major attack againstIraqi forces in as many days.

A second suicide attack in a nearby town killed twoothers and wounded a top provincial official, shattering arelative calm in Iraq following the formation of a newgovernment by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last month.

"We have so far received 13 bodies, and are treating 64wounded," Firaz al-Dulaimi, a doctor at Baquba hospital, said,referring to the first attack this morning in the Diyalaprovincial capital.

The 10 AM (local time) bomb in the middle of Baquba, arestive ethnically mixed city north of Baghdad, targeted anoffice of the Force Protection Service, the agency responsiblefor securing the country''s government buildings

About 90 minutes later in the nearby town of Ghalbiyah, asuicide bomber blew up his explosives-filled car in the midstof a crowd of Shiite pilgrims, killing two people and wounding16, an official in the provincial security command said.

Among the wounded were Diyala deputy governor Sadiqal-Husseini and three of his bodyguards.

Husseini was visiting with worshippers as they gatheredahead of commemorations for Arbaeen, which marks 40 days sincethe anniversary of the death of the revered seventh centuryShiite Imam Hussein.

Baquba, and Diyala province, was an al-Qaeda strongholdas recently as 2008. While violence has dropped offdramatically both in Diyala and nationwide since then, theprovince remains one of Iraq''s least secure.

The attacks came a day after a suicide bomber detonatedhis explosives-packed vest in the middle of a crowd of policerecruits in the central city of Tikrit, killing 50 people andwounding up to 150.

It was the deadliest attack to hit Iraq in more than twomonths, and the first major strike since Maliki named a newcabinet on December 21, ending nine months of stalemate afterMarch elections.

Tikrit''s police chief Colonel Ibrahim al-Juburi and thehead of the city''s emergency response squad Brigadier GeneralMohammed Majeed were fired in the aftermath of the blast.

Maliki condemned the Tikrit attack, saying "terrorists"had once again targeted the innocent.

"Once again the terrorists returned to their usualtactics of killing the innocent and targeting the brave youngpeople who wanted to serve their country and defend it," hesaid in a statement yesterday evening. (AFP)

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